Internal alignment: 6 organizations outside of healthcare that have thriving company cultures

What hospitals and health systems can learn from Zappos and beyond

Recently, we’ve noticed our clients are increasingly interested in building better culture for their hospital brands. To create a thriving company culture, organizations should focus their efforts on developing superior customer service – businesses cannot have one without the other. Since hospitals are relatively new to internal alignment practices, we decided to look outside of healthcare to see how other organizations keep their customers happy and their employees even happier.

Here they are:


Zappos, the online shoe company, practically wrote the book on customer service. It was one of the first e-commerce organizations to focus on customer service as a tool to boost their brand reputation and generate consumer loyalty. The reason for their success? Zappos makes all their hiring and firing decisions based on its core values. During interviews, candidates are vetted based on how well they fit in with Zappos’ company culture. After one week of training, candidates are offered $2,000 to quit if they aren’t a good fit. Meaning, Zappos isn’t going to let anyone disrupt the status quo.

Takeaway: Hire the right person for the job, not the one that looks great on paper. Candidates may have impressive credentials, but poor attitudes. Toxic employees are a recipe for disaster. Take a page out of Zappos’ book and hire based on core values, and fire those who don’t fit the mold.

Southwest Airlines

Airlines often get bad reputations for impolite employees and less than ideal travel accommodations. However, when Herb Kelleher created Southwest Airlines, he knew great customer service would differentiate his airline from the rest. Almost 50 years later, it is still known as one of the friendliest airlines in America. Southwest prides itself on great communication and employee recognition. It gives a “shout out” to employees who go above and beyond the call of duty. They even get featured in the SouthWest Spirit magazine. Additionally, it uses storytelling to communicate its vision and purpose, using videos and owned media to spread important internal messages.

Takeaway: Employee recognition can go a long way. It can give your doctors, nurses, staff, etc. a sense of purpose. Acknowledge those who have gone above and beyond the call of duty. It doesn’t hurt to give out small rewards so that others strive to do the same. Use owned media to spread positive messages and keep everyone in line with a common goal.


Google is consistently recognized as one of the best organizations to work for. Google offers its employees competitive benefits such as free food, a gym membership, a dog-friendly office, etc. Most importantly, however, they have an open door policy. This policy allows for ease of communication between low-level workers and their superiors.

Takeaway: Benefits are great, but giving your employees a voice is what matters the most. One of the biggest complaints among nurses is that they don’t feel like they have a say in patient care. Create a channel that allows them to talk to superiors, and feel like they’re part of a team and not just another number.

Whole Foods

You are what you eat, and that’s something Whole Foods understands. That’s why it gives its employees a discount on everything in the store. Employees can also get an extra 10 percent off their purchases if they take part in preventative care, like keeping their blood pressure in check. Whole Foods is not only transparent about the food it serves, but it’s also open about its business initiatives. Hiring is done by a panel of peers, conducting a town hall-style interview for candidates.

Takeaway: Transparency is key to a trustworthy relationship. Keeping important decisions from your employees can build an ugly barrier between departments. Make sure to keep everyone in the loop about upcoming changes or initiatives that could affect their work moving forward.


Food isn’t everything, but at Twitter, they don’t mess around at lunchtime. The company offers delicious grub for their employees year round. In addition to great food, Twitter doesn’t keep track of vacation days or PTO, which means there’s plenty of time for R&R. It’s altruistic as well; it gives two global days off a year to give back to the community. Twitter lets its employees know they are cared about and appreciated.

Takeaway: This one is simple, a happy workforce equals a happy working community.

Smith & Jones

Yes, even we feel strongly about company culture. You end up spending more time with the people that you work with than your family. It’s important to have a shared set of values to make sure everyone is on the same page about what’s important i.e. Get It Done Right, Trust & Respect, Be Happy, Collaborate, and Know Your Shit. In fact, every couple of weeks, we honor an employee with an award and a small gift for being a shining example of our core values. It’s our way of saying thank you because we know if our team is a success, then our clients will be a success as well.

Takeaway: Every single one of your employees’ should contribute to your business’s success. Make sure they know that; show that you care.

If you’d like to learn more abut internal alignment practices for hospitals and health systems, then download this white paper, Organizational Alignment for Healthcare Brands.